Thursday, June 9, 2011

Book review: What Liberals Believe

By Zach Foster

What Liberals Believe, edited by William Martin, is an interesting collection of quotations by various writers, thinkers, and pundits, assembled into one large 700 page volume.  All readers can be warned that this book is targeted to liberals, predominantly members of the Democratic Party.  Most of the quotes in this book directly attack conservatives and at times the entire Republican Party.  Therefore, Democrats will highly enjoy and feel extra intellectual, while Republicans will be nothing but offended and possibly self-righteous.

Speaking of self-righteousness, such is what this book emanates on a grand scale.  After all, the subtitle is Thousands of Quotes on Why America Needs to be Rescued from Greedy Corporations, Homophobes, Racists, Imperialists, Xenophobes, and Religious Extremists.  It is understandable that members from any school of thought will naturally believe that they have the moral and intellectual authority on matters, but it flawed reasoning and outright arrogance that would make anyone believe that all of the above are attributed to conservatives. Ironically, there’s a full section on arrogance in this book.

The flawed reasoning might even be excuseable, given that this book is edited by a member of the liberal school of thought and marketed to members of the same school.  However, the sources for quotations often undermine the book’s purposes.  This book is meant to be an enjoyable and quick guide to the basic philosophical positions of the American liberal on various issues.  Undermining this are many out of context quotes from: the Bible, the Talmud, and the Koran, religious texts which are apolitical; populist writers and thinkers like Jim Hightower and Benjamin Franklin; socialists such as Albert Camus, Howard Zinn, Albert Einstein, Ghandi, and even Karl Marx.

The book would have much more credibility had it stuck purely with American liberal thinkers and writers.  The most erroneous quote the editor mines from is the socialist camp.  Socialists have no respect for the mainstream American liberal.  They see John F. Kennedy and Barack Obama as sellouts that betrayed the working class to the bourgeoisie.  Quoting Karl Marx and Lyndon Johnson in the same book to outline one system of beliefs is purely erroneous.  It’s one thing to quote a political or philosophical rival as an example of what one stands against, but not as an example of what one stands for—otherwise such a rival would be an ally.

The book can be obtained on Amazon and other online bookstores for just a few dollars—an excellent price for a 700 page hardcover book.  Let everyone keep in mind that only American liberals will fully appreciate it as it was intended.

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